Tuesday, 20 March 2018

2018 O2C Doeberl Cup - Blindfold Simul and Lecture

World record holder GM Timur Gareyev is the latest GM entrant to this years O2C Doeberl Cup. He holds the record for the largest documented blindfold simul, with 48 games in 2016.
As part of his trip to Canberra, he will be conducting a 10 board blindfold simul at the Southern Cross Club on Wednesday 28 March (the night before the Doeberl Cup begins). This event is being organised by the ACT Chess Association, and members are invited to take part. You can either contact ACTCA President Cam Cunningham if you are interested (contact details here)  or respond to the email invitation if you are on the ACTCA mailing list.
Gareyev will also be giving a lecture on Friday morning (30 March) to junior players. As space is limited, this will be for ACT junior players with a FIDE rating (or ACF rating above 1000). Invitations will be sent out shortly, or you can reply directly to me at the above link if you wish to attend.
Both these events are free to ACTCA/ACTJCL members

Sunday, 18 March 2018

2018 Dubbo Open - IM Stephen Solomon wins

IM Stephen Solomon completed a clean sweep of the 2018 Dubbo Open scoring another 3 wins on day 2. He started off the day with a win over joint leader WFM Alana Chibnall, followed it up with a win over Trevor Bemrose, before reaching 6/6 by scoring a nice win of Don Keast.
The battle for second place was a little more dramatic, with 4 Canberra players paired together on boards 2&3 in the final round. Matt Radisich reached 4.5 by beating a somewhat flagging Graham Saint, while Glenn Ingham leapfrogged Chibnall in the last game to finish, converting a tricky opposite coloured bishop ending. This left Ingham and Radisich tied for 2nd place.
Milorad Lukic and Stephen Taylor (4/6) finished equal first in the Under 1650 category, Keith Farrell (3.5) had an excellent event to collect the Under 1400 prize, while 10 year old Eamonn Fitzgerald (3.0) was the best unrated player.
Full standings from the event, plus a small selection of games, can be found at http://tournaments.streetchess.net/dubbo2018/wwwDubboOpen2018/

Solomon,Stephen J (2412) - Keast,Don A (1913) [C06]
Dubbo Open 2018 Dubbo AUS (6), 18.03.2018

Saturday, 17 March 2018

2018 Dubbo Open - Day 1

IM Stephen Solomon and WFM Alana Chibnall lead the 32 player Dubbo Open at the end of the first day. The are on 3/3, and will play in the first round on Sunday morning.
Solomon had two fairly straightforward wins in the first two rounds, but had to work a little harder in the third round. Chibnall got to 100% by overcoming former winner Don Keast in the third round after Keast played a piece sacrifice that was almost, but not quite, winning.
Tied for third are Trevor Bemrose and Slavko Kojic on 2.5. They will also meet in the 4th round, with the winner up against the winner of Solomon and Chibnall.
The club also hosted the regular handicap blitz event, which was won by WFM Alana Chibnall for the 4th time in the last years. Going the final round she was tied with Glenn Ingham, but an upset win by Helen Aylwin over Ingham in round 5 saw Chibnall finish outright first.

Kanostrevac,Zeljko (1764) - Solomon,Stephen J (2412) [A45]
Dubbo Open 2018 Dubbo AUS (3), 17.03.2018

Friday, 16 March 2018

2018 Dubbo Open

The 2018 Dubbo Open begins tomorrow at the Dubbo RSL Club. The event has attracted a very strong last minute entry in IM Stephen Solomon, who  is making journey back from Ballarat to Queensland, and has decided to have a chess break along the way.
While Solomon looks to be the clear favourite, I'm sure other players in the event hold out hope of scoring an upset win, especially at the slightly faster time limit of 60m+10s
While there will not be live coverage of the games, you can get all the tournament results at http://tournaments.streetchess.net/dubbo2018/wwwDubboOpen2018/ If I get enough time during or between rounds I will try and enter a few games, which can be replayed from the result web page.

(** I am a paid official at this event **)


Way back in 1988, the NSWCA organised an International Swiss at the Hakoah Club in Sydney, to take advantage of the World Junior, which had just finished in Adelaide. Towards the end of the tournament FM Craig Laird was looking good for an IM norm, having beaten one of the overseas GM's (IIRC). But it all came crashing down in the next round, when he lost a game that many thought he was a lock to win. Despite my hazy knowledge of who Laird's opponents were, I can still clearly remember a quote from Patrick Halpin about what happened. "One day a rooster, the next a feather duster"
I suspect Vladmir Kramnik might be feeling that way, having followed up his crushing win over Aronian in the Candidates Tournament, with a disastrous loss to Caruana in the next round. It wasn't that he was expected to win against Caruana that was the issue, but how the game played out. At first Caruana was winning, then it was equal, then Kramnik was winning, then it was equal, before Kramnik blundered in time trouble and lost. So instead of streaking ahead in the tournament, he has fallen back into the pack, and will need to regroup for tonight's game. It will be interesting to see if he bounces back, plays it safe, or goes 'on tilt'

Kramnik,Vladimir (2800) - Caruana,Fabiano (2784) [C42]
FIDE Candidates 2018 Berlin GER (4.4), 14.03.2018

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

2018 Candidates - Aronian (and my tips) get crushed

The third round of the 2018 Candidates Tournament saw one of the biggest hammerings at this level that I can remember. Kramnik uncorked an opening idea against Aronian that he had kept up his sleeve for 2 years, and totally demolished him. 7. ... Rg8 looked on the surface to be a hackers move, but it was actually a good method of exploiting Aronian's setup. Aronian either didn't take the idea seriously, or just missed the key ideas, but within a few moves he was unsuccessfully trying to avoid being overrun on the kingside. The game finished in a complete rout, with Kramnik's pawns ending up on f3 and g2.
Having tipped against Kramnik at the start of the event, he has proved me wrong by leading with 2.5/3. Aronian is on 1/3, only ahead of So (someone else I thought had a chance btw) on 0.5.

Aronian,L (2794) - Kramnik,V (2800) [C65]
FIDE Candidates 2018 Berlin GER (3), 12.03.2018

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

2018 ACT Chess Championship - Lo and Brown share title

The final day of the 2018 ACT Chess Championship could not split the overnight leaders, leaving IM Andrew Brown and Willis Lo sharing the title of 2018 ACT Champion. Lo had the slightly tougher run to the finish, but also had fortune go his way, after a dramatic round 6 win over FM Michael Kethro. Short of time Kethro played an unsound combination which left Lo a piece up, but Kethro still had possible drawing chances. However he lost on time after mishitting his clock, giving Lo the point. In the final round against Brian Butler, Lo gambled on a king and pawn ending which was still drawn after both players queened, but a misstep by Butler allowed Lo to reach another king and pawn ending, but this time a winning won.
IM Andrew Brown played two pretty convincing games against Adrian de Noskowski in round 6 and Joshua Lee in round 7. The game against Lee was probably the best game of the event, with Brown offering a rook for a number of moves while building up a winning attack. These wins left both Lo and Brown on 6.5/7, and joint champions.
Equal third was shared by Sankeertan Badrinarayan and Tim Pearce on 5/7. Ricky Luo and Lachlan Ho shared the Under 1500 prize, with Ho picking up the best performance against rating prize (otherwise known as W-We). Thomas Lin was the best FIDE unrated with 4/7, while Liam Miller won the best newcomer prize.
Full results, plus a selection of games (including the top 4 boards from each round) can be found at http://tournaments.streetchess.net/actchampionship2018/

Monday, 12 March 2018

2018 ACT Championship - Brown and Lo share lead after 5 rounds.

IM Andrew Brown and Willis Lo share the lead in the 2018 ACT Championship after 5 rounds. The two players met in round 4, with Brown looking good early in the game, before Lo turned the tables, and reached an almost winning position around move 40. However Brown found enough to keep the game going, and after Lo was not able to find the right lines, the game ended with KvK!
Adrian De Noskowski is outright third on 4 points, after a good 5th round win against Brian Butler. He faces Brown in the mornings round, while Lo is up against FM Michael Kethro. Kethro had a tough day 3, being held to a draw by Sankeerten Badrinarayan, before losing a quick game against Brown in the afternoon round.
With two rounds to play Lo and Brown are in the box seat, but with 7 players tied for 4th on 3.5, the final placings are still a little up in the air. Round 6 starts at 10am (Canberra time). Live coverage of the top 4 boards can be found at http://tournaments.streetchess.net/actchampionship2018/

Brown,Andrew (2278) - Lo,Willis (2005) [D19]
2018 ACT Championships Canberra AUS (4), 11.03.2018

Sunday, 11 March 2018

2018 Candidates

The 2018 Candidates tournament is about to start in Berlin (1am Canberra time). The field of 8 players will play each other twice to determine who will challenge Magnus Carlsen for the World Championship. While there are a couple of notable names missing from the field (Nakamura and Anand spring to mind), the fact that only 46 rating points separate the top seed (Mamedyarov) and the bottom seed (Karjakin) means that the tournament will either be incredibly competitive, or super cautious. I'm certainly hoping for the former, but I wouldn't be surprised if Round 12 (out of 14) is reached with 1 point separating the entire field!
As for who is going to win, I honestly don't know. I'm going to discount Ding Liren and Grischuk's chances, and I can't see Kramnik taking first place either (despite his 2800 rating). That leaves 5 players (Aronian, Caruana, So, Mamedyarov and Karjakin) that I think could all take first place. If I had to pick one of form, I'd take Mamedyarov, while one sentiment, I'd like to see Aronian across the board from Carlsen later in the year.
The official tournament website is here, while chess24 is also covering the game at this link.

Friday, 9 March 2018

2018 ACT Championship - Round 1

The first round of the 2018 ACT Championships saw no real upsets, with the top half of the field winning on almost all the boards. The only exception was a draw between unrated James Minogue, and Banner Shafer, where a drawn rook and pan ending was reached after 3 hours of play.
There was quite a gap between the top seeds and the rest of the 37 player field, although the longest games did occur on the top boards. Probably the game of the round was played by FM Michael Kethro against Ricky Luo, with Kethro finding some nice tactics in the middle game. (You can see the top 4 games here)
The first round tomorrow starts at 10:00 am, with live coverage of the top 4 games. You can also late enter the event, taking a half point bye for the first round. Current standings from the tournament (and future draws etc) can be found here.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Time to get your entries in

If you are planning your chess activities over the next month, no is the time to get entries in for each of these.
The 2018 ACT Chess Championship is starting tomorrow night, at Campbell High School, Cambpbell ACT. This is a 7 round FIDE rated event with a time limit of 90m+30s per move. As it is a long weekend in the ACT (Canberra Day!) the tournament has a relativity relaxed schedule of 1 round Friday evening, followed by 2 rounds on each of the following days. There are already 24 player entered, and entries will be taken up until the start of the first round at 7:00pm. Further details can be found here.
If you are in Victoria, or planning to travel there, the 2018 Ballarat Begonia Open is being held this weekend as well. Considered the number 2 weekend event in Australia (after the Doeberl Cup) it looks like a strong event, with 4 Australian GM's at the top of the field. Entry details can be found at the tournament website.
Next weekend is the 2018 Dubbo Open, in western NSW. This event normally attracts a personable mix of players from Sydney, Newcastle, Canberra, and the host city, and often provides a good opportunity for players in the 1700 - 2000 rating range to win a weekend event. Event details can be found at this link.
And of course Easter sees the 2018 O2C Doeberl Cup. Entries have sailed past the 120 mark, with the Premier starting to fill up. (NB each section has a maximum number of available places). The Premier already has 4 GM's and 7 IM's officially entered, with at least one more overseas GM close to being confirmed. You can enter online at the tournament website, as well as see who has already entered in each of the sections.

(** I am a paid official at 3 of these events **)

Tuesday, 6 March 2018


Losing a game over the board is bad enough, but to lose it for other reasons can be especially painful. By now most experienced players are familiar with the dreaded mobile phone forfeit, but if you've played chess long enough, you eventually learn there are other ways to hand over a point.
Oversleeping is always a goody, and looking over Bill Egan's book on the Doeberl Cup, I see that a few players have fallen foul of this. IM Aleks Wohl did this on at least two occasions, missing out on playing GM Eduard Gufeld in 1988, while I was even guilty of this offence in my first Doeberl Cup in 1985 (In my defence I had worked a 10pm to 6am shift, and my mother ignored my instructions to wake me at 9am).
Flipping a chess board is a rarity, but I know of at least one incident (at a local club) where a player upended a table, and walked out before being defaulted. (It seems that the player had tangled his bag around the table leg, and in grabbing the bag, upset the table.)
Of course with the various "no draw before x moves" rules in play, it is now easier to be double forfeited. This has happened on occasion, but not in any tournaments I've directed. On the other hand, failure to report a result has resulted in me recording 0-0 in lots of tournament, usually in blitz, but also in at least one Doeberl Cup.
Fortunately the one object that has caused more forfeits during the game (the mobile phone), is probably responsible for less accidental forfeits by sleeping in. Whether it has been a net gain, I'm not totally sure.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Form is temporary

But class is permanent. So goes an old saying, which could be applied to Vishwanathan Anand. After winning the most World Rapid Championship he has backed it up with a win in the 2018 Tal Memorial. While the event isn't quite what it was (previously it was a classical all play all, now it is a rapid and blitz), it did have an incredibly strong field. His 6/9 was a full point ahead of Mamedyarov, Nakamura and Karjakin. He lost to Mamedyarov, but beat Nakamura, Dubov, Grischuk and Nepomniachtchi. Quite an impressive feat for a player many were suggesting was past it towards the end of 2017!

One rule to change?

Of all the rule proposals that I read while I was a member of the FIDE Rules Commission, there was one potential rule change (to how the game was played) that I did not reflexively dismiss.
It was in fact a very very old rule (rather than a new 'I can make chess better' rule), and it used to be part of the game. I am talking about the 'Bare King' rule, where losing all your pieces (except your king) counted as a loss.
Now, while I said I didn't reflexively dismiss it, I don't actually think it should be reintroduced to the game, with a possible exception. One variation on this rule was that a win by 'Bare King' only earned you half the stake for winning the game (when chess was a betting game). Using that idea, it may be possible to use it as a tie-break, or secondary scoring system. Keep the usual result system, but assign a secondary score based on this feature. The diagrammed position is an example, where under the old rules this is white to play and win, under the current rules this should be a draw (with best play), but incorporating secondary results, this is a draw, but White earns more from the game than Black.
Of course proposals like this tend to fall foul of my "Exactly what problem are we trying to fix here" rule, so apart from its possible use in novelty events, I don't see it catching on.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Innovations can come from anywhere

While looking at the latest coverage of the Pro Chess League at chess.com, I saw a shout out to GM David Smerdon, from a game played by World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen had a quick win as Black playing the Scandinavian, and Smerdon's book on the opening was given credit. However I thought the opening idea looked both familiar and older, and a bit of research confirmed this.
Where I remember it from was the 1998 Australian Junior Championship, where Kylie Coventry scored a 19 move win using the same line. I'm pretty sure the FM Manuel Weeks was the source of the idea (as he coached Coventry on the way to winning the Australian Girls Championship that year), although the line was first played (unsuccessfully)  in 1994. But it is no surprise that Smerdon included it in his book, as he played in the Australian Junior that year, and probably saw how powerful it was, as it was being played!

Norris,Shiloh (1348) - Coventry,Kylie (1533) [B01]
AUS jr ch U18 Girls Adelaide (2.33), 13.01.1998

Friday, 2 March 2018

Before I found the Traxler

There was a time when I did not play the Traxler against the Two Knights Defence. Way back in the dim distant past I did play the more normal 4. ... d5 lines, although even this move "simply loses a pawn" according to Nigel Short.
But if the following game is anything to go by, the reason I switched to the Traxler is if I was going to surrender material (as I did in this game), then I should do so for the right reasons (rather than just missing my opponents moves)

Austin,David - Press,Shaun [C59]
Belconnen, 1986